Things I wish I’d known 15 months ago

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. My life would have been a while lot more pleasant if I’d known…

1. Labour can be hellish, unpredictable, and affect you more than you think. Luckily, it’s all a flash and a blur afterwards, even if it went in for days.
2. It’s ok to want to go on and on about it afterwards, especially if you feel disappointed by it.
3. If you don’t love your baby right away, it’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
4. It’s perfectly acceptable to look fat and mumsy for at least three months after birth. Accept you will never look quite the same way again. Making a whole new person can take the edge off your vitality, at least for a while.
5. Babies don’t need much stuff. Toys will be redundant for about 3 months at least.
6. Don’t allow people to treat your house as a baby-viewing café. It is perfectly acceptable to say no visitors for two weeks. If people come, don’t feel bad about asking them not to come at the last minute, asking them to leave… etc. Yes, even grandparents. It doesn’t matter how much they spent on a gift.
7. Mummy friends are essential.
8. Non-mummy are essential. Don’t alienate them.
9. Try to breast feed. Even if you only manage a week, it’s a great start. Formula is magic stuff and I am so happy it exists.
10. You know your baby best. If you think something’s wrong, it probably is. If your mum is saying something’s wrong, but you think everything is good, you’re right.
11. Ignore all advice from people who had babies more than 5 years ago. Take the advice from people with under fives if you want to. If you don’t, smile and nod, and change the subject.
12. There are thousands of ways to bring up a baby. Only very few are wrong. Do it the way you want.
13. Don’t count down to your due date. If possible, don’t tell anyone your due date. 5% of babies arrive on time. If you go overdue, the 5000 “Have you had that baby yet?!” texts make you want to firebomb the senders’ houses.
14. All children walk, talk, sleep though the night, read, write blah blah blah at their own pace. No one likes a smug mum. Tell me once, I’ll be happy for you. Tell me five times, I might have to spill my coffee all over your cream carpet.
15. My baby is the most beautiful thing I’ve every seen, and the best thing I’ve ever done! But sometimes, I want to get away from her because she does my box in. See item ‘8’.

I’ve probably missed like 100 things out!

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The Hardest Job in the World?

After old Lizzy J- that well known ‘artist’- released a column full of horrible women-hating bile (what a step away from the Daily Mail’s usual offerings-NOT) last week, I was left to ponder the blogging community’s massive rebuttal, mainly featuring tired mums in sick-stained jogging bottoms wailing that motherhood is ‘the hardest job in the world!’ I started to think about my own 8-month experience with a small person…

I remember sitting on the couch, after my husband had gone back to work, and my mum had arrived at the house, having taken a week of her work to come and help me in whatever way she could- cleaning, cooking, washing. She even took my laundry on for about 6 weeks. Phoebe had been up at 2am for two hours and 5am until 7am. I was exhausted, recovering mentally and physically from a birth that had left me bitter, disappointed and physically mutilated. I struggled to get a shower, and as I was feeding her on demand, she might require me at any moment, and I could hardly leave her for a second.

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You can prepare for the birth of a baby insomuch as you can buy them little sleep suits, prepare a cot, buy some nappies and 5000 muslin cloths, but you cannot prepare for basically just how bloody hard it is in the beginning. People must think, “but you’re just sitting about with you boobs out, what’s so hard?” It is almost impossible to explain, apart from to say that the feeling that this precious little life needs you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever.

That feeling is good as well as horribly, horribly terrifying. Especially in the beginning when you are putting in so much hard work, and getting nothing back. They seem to just eat and sleep and scream.

Things get a little easier though.

Gradually, you feel that you can leave the house to see a friend for half an hour. Then, you are able to meet in a public place. They start to play and amuse themselves. Before too long, you can take your baby to the shops. Within a few short months, you can entertain your baby with a rice cake. They go off breast feeding. You have your body back! By then they really are their own little person with personalities, quirks, likes and dislikes. You start to think you can leave them with someone else for a few hours. The scales aren’t a mount of shame. You can get drunk again! You think about going back to work. You can hold more than one thought in your brain at once!!!

So what am I saying about my 8 months with a little ‘un? Well it has been hard work. And it will continue to be, as I go back to work next month. And she starts moving and talking and whatnot. But it is so much more rewarding. And as I got the hang of it, I felt more like myself, more like a success.

Is it the hardest job in the world? In many ways. But sometimes, when my husband comes home from work and asks, “How was your day?” and say, “Oh, I’m exhausted. We went for tea and cake with Katrina and Stephanie, then went to the shops to get teabags then went for a walk with Nyree in the afternoon” and I see his disbelieving face, I think, hmmm. Maybe my day isn’t as taxing as it could have been…